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River sneakers step into history

After 27 years, Bernie Fowler got a new suit of clothes for his 2014 Patuxent River Wade In.     “It’s a historical day. For 27 years now, I’ve waded in tattered tennis shoes,” the 90-year-old Patuxent River champion and retired Maryland senator told his crowd of followers assembled under a striped marquee on a perfect June Sunday.     Then he handed the tattered sneakers to Sherrod Sturrock, deputy director of Calvert Marine Museum. Straw hat, shirt and denim overalls followed, filling Sturrock’s arms.
Tattered sneakers tell a river’s story. Retired state senator Bernie Fowler tells his.
This Sunday, June 8, Bernie Fowler will tie on his white sneakers to wade into the Patuxent River. Well-wishers, family and friends, school kids, politicians and reporters will join him, linking hands in a human chain, striding into the water until they can no longer see their shoes. Then, if history is a guide, Steny Hoyer — the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Congress — will measure the height of the watermark on his old friend’s overalls, declaring the Sneaker Index for 2014.  
In Their Own Words
I was a big athlete. I got recruited to play lacrosse at the Naval Academy. Then I flunked out of the Academy. I lost my leg. Now I can’t even drive anymore. But you have to accept those limitations. You have to continue to pursue whatever you are supposed to be doing. It’s often confusing as to what that is. Continue to figure out why you are here, you know? Helping people is important, too; that’s where you get your real satisfaction.

Is your neighbor the next New York Times bestseller?

The death of reading — like the death of Mark Twain — may be greatly exaggerated.     For the Digital Age has given us high-quality, nearly instant do-it-yourself publishing. Thus the book each of us has within can find a publisher — if it finds an author.     Then it must find readers.     If you’re a reader in search of an author, you’ll find them on May 31 at Prince Frederick Library’s huge Author Festival.

In Their Own Words

Maddie Breed, 18, ­Annapolis

I’ve been singing opera since I was eight. Yeah, people look at me crazy when they hear that because I don’t really seem like I would. Like opera singers aren’t supposed to wear hats like this. I definitely don’t fit the stereotype of an opera singer, so it’s cool to be someone who does things people don’t expect.

When the Bay Bridge looms, Kent Island Shuttle Service will do the driving

Reaching heights that exceed 200 feet; spanning a gap of over four miles; accommodating more than 1,500 vehicles — per five lanes; and carrying over 27 million vehicles each year — the Chesapeake Bay Bridge may be a wonder of modern (or, not-so-modern) conveyance. But a select few view it as a crossing more insurmountable, a ­barrier of fear.     These select few suffer from gephyrophobia, or fear of bridges.     “The phobia is real,” says Carol Claiborne. “I’ve experienced it.”

20 minutes to better boating

I take my boating safety seriously. For the past 20 years, I have signed up for Coast Guard Auxiliary safety inspection. My spring ritual assures I will be safe, legal and prepared should the Coast Guard or Natural Resources Police choose to stop me for a random on-water inspection.     Every year I pass the formal inspection, but the inspector always makes multiple recommendations for improving my safety. This year I wanted to pass with no recommendations.

Barb Robbins, Sara Russell and Donna Kurrle

We were all best friends in high school, so we came here to a neutral location for a little reunion.     My dad served in World War II. He joined at 18, straight out of high school, and served until it was over. Every time I drive by this memorial, I think of him and my three uncles who served. My dad’s still alive, just turned 88.     My father served in the Battle of The Bulge.     Your dad served in Battle of the Bulge? How come you never told me that?

Beat me while you can

By July 2014, the weekly crossword feature I’ve been writing for just under 10 years will be disassembled.     I start a full-time job as a professor of music in the fall, plus caring for my son.     Yet pressing send for each so-long letter felt like tearing down a beautiful and still very livable home. Bay Weekly the eaves, Cincinnati City Beat the moldings, Chicago Reader the foundation. As each part fell, I remembered crafting it.

Andrew Wildermuth, 19, Mayo

I love people, and I love the Chesapeake.     In my year of writing for Bay Weekly, I have wanted to make my own column. Something unique, something bold, something that digs into the DNA of the region. I’ve bought a nice camera and gained huge inspiration from Humans Of New York, the online blog that captures the essence of New York with daily interviews, randomly chosen from its interesting inhabitants.